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My choice Hawai'i. Perfection...

Just off the land of 'Supersize me', (the country that brought us jumbo fries and Uncle Sam) Hawaii is a pretty piece of paradise, sitting daintily in the middle of the great Pacific Ocean.

Hawai’i is divine. 

I kid you not, the temperature in July is a perfect 28oC with gentle breezes. It is not hot and never cold. If I had to choose my year round temperature, this is it. It rains lightly every now and again, but you would need to run around to get wet. 

The tourist brochures promise tans, trees, and picture perfect beaches. In my brochure, I would put pics of the giant snow cones (shave ice) and the multicultural face that is modern Hawai’i. On the next page would be the sweet mouth-watering fish and the fresh seafood. The opposite page would host pictures of rippled solid lava crusts and amazing rainforests. On the back page, the views across Waikiki beach at sunrise or sunset. 

I don’t think I have ever been so surprised by a country. My poor naive brain thought that all the people in Hawai’i were going to look like the typical Samoan - you know, coco skin, gentle brown eyes and all strumming ukuleles. It is true that these people do exist, but they are either in the airports performing for the masses of Japanese tourists or hiding in their villages in remote green mountains. 

Hawai'ian DancersHawai'ian Dancers

This land is an eclectic mix of islanders, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese and of course our "out there" American allies. I was not prepared for such a diverse culture and had expected a cross between the Gold coast and Vanuatu. I was wrong, and I like the fact that I was. Hawai’i is not like the Gold coast. It has a lot more soul. It is not like Vanuatu - it has more zing. 

The Honolulu airport is not your definition of the modern day technological airport. The wall to floor mission brown is a bit of a giveaway as to the era this airport was last renovated. The glitzy DS Galleria stores seem a little out of whack here. 

Somewhere between the 70’s and now this airport got frozen in time. Actually come to think of it, many parts of these islands are the same. Some of the little Mom and Pop stores forgot to get modern and look like "diners" you often see in old movies. They have those black ribbed boards that you stick the white plastic letters in and some inevitably fall out during the day or month.

Hawai’i is in hangover mode from the wartime era and as it is a big part of its history, I think justifiably so. Pearl Harbour is a striking reminder of the tragedy that befell these islands in the early 1940’s. The wreck of the Arizona and her fellow ships, stand testament to the USA’s involvement in the world’s events. 

Sunset BeachSunset Beach
The other side.

In trendy downtown Waikiki, the Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Bvlgari stores mingle with every brand you can dream of, and with the Aussie dollar so strong there is a lot of amazing shopping to be had here. There is a great bargain centre a bit out of Honolulu that hosts factory outlets - you can pick up genuine Nine West shoes for $20US and red tab Levis for $29US. You can also buy a nice cheap trolley bag to put all the extra shoes into on the way home. Just watch that excess baggage limit. (Ooops) 


Rainforest and Lava!Rainforest and Lava!

The hotels, for the most part are gorgeous. The Moana Surfrider sits snuggled in by the historic pink Royal Hawaiian and the Sheraton Waikiki, on the shores of glistening Waikiki beach, and it is completely understandable as to why this place is so visited. 

These resorts have the lingering charms of the 40’s, and it is impossible not to be put under the spell of these old ladies. The white deckchairs line the front and back of the Westin Moana Surfrider and the more affluent tourists, baked red, watch the world go by as they sip their icy mai-tais. 

A few streets back off the beach and you will hit the markets and smaller boutique stores, not to mention endless souvenirs and bargain breakfasts. After a hard night in Waikiki, there are lots of places serving $4.95US (plus tips and taxes) eggs on toast. Mind you, butter does not exist and creamer takes the place of milk. And yes, there are cows in Hawai’i. In these same streets, sexy women wearing belts for skirts strut their long legs looking for customers. The car park across the road, uses a clangy lift to take its vehicles up to the higher levels does not have the same street appeal. The hotel we stayed in opposite provides fluorescent stripy earplugs free and more on request. The restaurant next door turns into a hooters bar if you don’t eat your fish fast enough too. 


Pretty forest of Hawai'iPretty forest of Hawai'i

If Maccas is your preference, an unusual mix of reconstituted eggs, bacon and cheese on a muffin - and I mean muffin - the deep fried blueberry pancake kind with maple syrup flavour is an interesting choice for starting your day. I have nicknamed it McCalorie with only 37 g of fat in every serve. Supersize me….Why don’t my pants fit? 

Speaking of food…what is with the orange cheese? How does cheese get orange??? You can’t tell me that the milk that is used makes it that way…. Having said that, the fish is fabulous, even though some of the names of the fish are unpronounceable. One has a name that means "pig faced snout fish." Yummy! 

We hired a schmick silver convertible for a drive around the island. It’s a bit scary the first time when you fold it back, but I soon got used to the warm sun and all the bits of hair attacking me from every direction. And that was just the other Emma’s hair sitting beside me. All I could hear in my mind was the Beach Boys and the song Hawaii 5 O. 


Lava FormationsLava Formations
The landscape of the island is stunning. Emerald hills plunge into fertile farms and pastures and then weave their way to the sandy shores of costal O’ahu. The north shore is a little haven away from the hectic pace of Waikiki. We pass plate shrimp farms that serve up popular prawns freshly sizzled in garlic, (good for keeping the vampires away) on plastic plates. In the little costal town of Haleiwa there is a restaurant that looks over the marina and serves a really huge fresh crab salad. A little bit further down the road, there are shave ice shops with long lines in front of them and little houses desperately in need of repair across the road. This is living. I wonder what the poor people are doing? 

On the Big Island of Hawai’i, bubbles one of the few active volcanoes on earth. Mt Kilauea has been active now for nearly 27 years and the locals are wondering quite when Pele, the volcano goddess will let it rest. This island has seen its share of tragedy, with 2 tsunamis in the last 60 years and many villages destroyed by molten lava as it rolls down intermittently and unforgivingly toward the sea, building new land as it goes. Across the stark black lava flow that has solidified into new land there are a handful of ferns springing to life. There are also a few locals who have rebuilt on the sites of their original homes, right on top of the lava crust, in the middle of nowhere, but with an ocean view. If the lava comes their way again, they will not be covered by insurance. 


Volcanic ActivityVolcanic Activity

Haleakala Crater is active and can be seen with a drive up to the Volcano National Park. It is spewing noxious sulphur di-oxide fumes into the air. The land around it is desolate and barren. Not too far from the crater is the Thurston Lava tube, a massive tunnel underground that the molten lava drained from to get to the ocean. It is damp and in a lush rainforest area now. 


Plums of Noxious GassesPlums of Noxious Gasses
Hilo airport, is the only airport I have ever been to that has floral covered lay back lounge chairs in the main terminal building. Now this I think, is the Hawai’i I expected. 

I have not yet discovered the other islands of Hawaii. They will have to wait for me and I hope that they are on island time - staying relatively Polynesian for now so I can discover them how they are meant to be. 

Mahalo Hawaii, you have captured me with your spirit and beauty. I will be back. You are the top of my list. (i think i say that about every country ive been to)

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